Causes of Foundation Problems that Lead to Failure
Knowing the signs of foundation problems can help get the problem fixed before it leads to complete foundation failure. The earlier the problem is recognized and fixed by a professional contractor, the less it will cost in the long run. The professionals at Bay Area Underpinning has the solutions to get your foundation back to its original integrity.
Most foundation problems are caused by the soil surrounding a home. The soil expands and contracts throughout the year due to moisture and temperature. The soil surrounding the home will have sections where the moisture levels are different. Part of the soil can be much drier or wetter than other parts of the soil, causing stress on the home’s foundation. These inconsistencies result from overloading, poor water management, faulty compaction, abundance of organic materials, and erosion.
Some of the other causes of foundation failure are:
Transpiration – Tree roots beneath the home causes the soil to dehydrate. The oil shrinks because of this loss of moisture.
Plumbing Leaks – If you have leaky pipes in your home, this can cause too much water to build up in the soil and can contribute to the stress on your home’s foundation.
Drainage – Poor drainage on both the exterior and interior of your home can cause excess moisture to build up in the soil surrounding your home’s foundation. This will cause the soil to heave.
Poor Building Site Preparation – When a home or building is being built, it is common for soil to be removed from part of the building and piled on other soil. If this soil is not properly stabilized before the structure is built, the soil may shift below the structure.
Over-Watering lawns – This will create the soil to be wet in some areas and dry in others.
Swimming Pools – Seepage from swimming pools can get into the soil causing increased pressure on the foundation.
Gutters and Downspouts – Gutters and downspouts that are not installed correctly can lead the water directly down on the foundation.
Interior Remodeling – Changes to your home’s structure can also put pressure on the foundation.
- Frost heave
- Soil Softening
- Variation in groundwater levels
- Vibration from nearby construction
The inadequate design of a home’s basement walls, footing and slab can account for a large percent of the problems in homes that are built on expansive clay soils. These failures are divided between to classes of failures; lateral pressure and differential settlement.
Lateral pressure has four likely sources:
- Pressure from soil weights
- Pressure from soil swelling
- Hydrostatic pressure
- Pressure from frost
Lateral pressure is not difficult to identify. The inward bowing of basement walls is one of the easiest indications of lateral pressure. The bowing generally occurs when the outside forces exceed the wall strength. If the bowing becomes severe, it can cause the wall to totally collapse.
Another sign of lateral pressure is cracking walls on the concrete or block wall. The most common crack pattern begins in the corners and moves up or down at a 45-degree angle in concrete walls. In block walls, the cracks move along the mortar joints in a stair-step pattern.
Lateral pressure can affect the integrity of your home. The structural damage can result in visible openings between the top or the basement wall and the structure. Water will enter through these openings and cause further damage.
Differential settlement is when a building’s foundation settles unequally in different areas after construction. this will lead to structural damage. It is usually caused by a change in soil structure or poor drainage conditions in the soil.
Signs of foundation failure:
- Leaning walls
- Misaligned doors or windows
- Leaning chimney
- Floor cracks
- Cracked stoop or porch
- Garage sinking
If you see any of these signs of foundation failure, contact the professionals at Bay Area Underpinning. We use the very best products for foundation repair. These products are made by Earth Contact Products (ECP), the leading manufacturer of basement waterproofing and foundation repair products in the industry.